In early December PCS’ Young Members’ Network hosted a well-attended panel session on the Green New Deal and the role of trade unions. The UK is gripped by a climate emergency, a pandemic, and a global recession. Bushfires across the world have reminded us that climate change is not some distant threat but is costing lives and livelihoods in the here and now.
Our wide-ranging discussion covered the nature of the climate emergency and the practical steps young trade unionists can take to address it. A Green New Deal – large-scale public investment in decarbonising society – would not only help avert climate catastrophe; it would also stimulate the economy and revive many deindustrialised communities.
In recent months there has been an increased appreciation for public service workers, including PCS members.
As PCS lead negotiator covering the Surge and Rapid Response Team of apprentices within HMRC I have seen numerous examples where the work of PCS members has been deemed to be essential.
125 Surge Apprentices from across the UK will be deployed from today (4th January) to support UK Border Force with work relating to EU Transition at a number of UK ports. The work is deemed so essential that the staff are being permitted to undertake extensive travel. A team of over a dozen Surge Apprentices based in Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire will be deployed to North Kent. The work is deemed so important that these staff are exempt from the current travel ban between Scotland and the rest of the UK.
This year’s Left Unity Annual Delegate Conference took place on Saturday 5th December from 12 noon to 4.00pm online.
Left Unity has a long political history in PCS, uniting the left and liberating PCS from a vicious right-wing bureaucracy led by Barry Reamsbottom who traded off many of the national bargaining areas that we are working hard to regain to empower PCS members at a national level against an extremely hostile employer in a fighting democratic Union.
Chairs Opening Remarks
The Conference started on a respectfully sombre note with Martin Cavanagh LUNC Vice Chair, Chairing Conference and making delegates aware of comrade Dave Bean’s (former President Revenue & Customs Group) passing during the night, where he commented on Dave’s and Simon Boniface’s contributions to Left Unity and called for a minute silence to be observed.
Martin’s introductions were brief recognising the change brought about by the restrictions imposed because of Covid-19 and welcoming delegates to the first online PCS Left Unity Conference.
Agreement of the Agenda
Conference Agreed the Agenda and Standing Orders for the meeting, which was different from hitherto, physical conferences with Statements from the LUNC on policy areas, but policy motions coming from the LU Regions.
It was agreed that there would be LUNC Statements on: –
The government continues with it’s catastrophic blundering in response to the rapid spread of the new variant of coronavirus. Despite Priti Patel claiming that they have always been ‘ahead of the curve’ the reality is that they have continually tailed behind it. This is no surprise, their priority from the outset has been the needs of businesses and the economy, not saving lives. The price has been tens of thousands of people losing their lives unnecessarily.
As the coronavirus first hit in March it was teachers, headteachers and parents who were ahead of the curve in closing their schools, the government eventually caught up and closed them all.
As the cases started to rise again in the Autumn and the government introduced their half hearted tiers system they steadfastly refused to close the schools and universities, despite mounting evidence that some of the fastest growing infection rates were to be found amongst young people.
As the rate of the virus spirals out of control the government announced that Secondary Schools around the country would have a 2 week break before returning on the 18th January. They also announced that some Primary Schools in London and the South East would remain closed. The method of selection was impenetrable, with some London boroughs with similar levels of cases being told to remain open.